News in brief:
More BA Gatwick schedule changes
British Airways has announced some additional schedule changes for Gatwick this Winter. None of these are substantial. The reason I mention them is that, because these flights were only added into the system on Wednesday, there should still be Avios availability on most dates even at peak times.
This is what is coming:
- Funchal – extra weekly departure on a Tuesday from 1st November
- Lanzarote – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
- Amsterdam – extra weekly departure on a Thursday from 3rd November
- Jersey – extra weekly departure on a Sunday from 30th October
- Salzburg – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
- Turin – extra weekly departure on a Monday from 31st October
- Nice – extra weekly departure on a Wednesday from 23rd November
All of these can now be booked at ba.com.
As at 4pm yesterday there were still 4 economy seats and 2 Club Europe seats to Salzburg on the Saturday of February half term (11th). This is probably THE most expensive BA short-haul flight of the year, filled with skiers. For cash, those same economy seats are selling for £322 one-way EACH.
Virgin Atlantic sale expands booking dates
The Virgin Atlantic sale is continuing for another few days, ending on 12th July.
The available bookings dates for the cheapest fares have just been widened for many destinations. If you tried to book earlier but found prices higher than the ‘lead in’ advertised fare it may be worth another look. The headline prices are:
Economy: Boston £438, Atlanta £577, New York £438, Washington £482, Miami £439, San Francisco £547, Dubai £350, Cancun £494
Premium Economy: Boston £716, Chicago £780, Las Vegas £795, New York £716
Starwood launches ‘Member Exclusive Rates’
Finally, Starwood (owners of Le Meridien, Westin, St Regis, Aloft, Element, W and Sheraton) has joined Hilton, IHG and other brands in fully rolling out ‘Member Exclusive Rates’. You will now pay less if you book at spg.com and are a member of Starwood Preferred Guest.
Such rates are the new weapon being used by the big brands in the war with Expedia and booking.com. A loophole in the contracts with the online travel agents allows the chains to sell their rooms cheaper on their own websites as long as they are not ‘publicly available’. Making you sign up as a member of the loyalty scheme – for free – before you can book these rates is how they claim the discounts are not ‘publicly available’.
You should, in any case, be booking direct with the chain in most cases. This is the only way to earn loyalty points from your stay and, for most chains, get your status benefits recognised.
The alternative is to commit to something like Hotels.com Rewards which gives you a free night for every 10 nights you book irrespective of brand. Next Friday I am actually using a Hotels.com Rewards free night for the very first time – it took me about four years to do the 10 nights required because the bulk of my bookings do go via direct booking channels.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)